Friday, November 02, 2007


I am in Boston for a client event, a pre-show reception and performance of "Wicked" at the Opera House. I was able to see the show when a client cancelled. I was pretty excited about it, as I am a pretty big "Wizard of Oz" fan (I was managing a book/video store during the 50th anniversary of the movie and we ran several cross-promotional activities with commemorative books and events. Plus I used to think I looked a lot like a particular movie still of Judy Garland in her brown pigtails and dreamy smile.)

But I identify myself as someone who doesn't like Broadway musicals, and it takes going to one after a long break to remember why: I don't like the music. It's not memorable to me. I can't tell the songs apart. They don't seem like songs to me, just la-la-la sung words. Even when they are framed like songs, they are not the kinds of songs I'd want to listen to over and over. The musicals I like are ones like "Rent" which have non-traditional music, or "Chicago" which are more period-specific. When I am watching a Broadway musical I keep longing for the song to end so we can get back to the story. Last night's two and a half hours seemed like the Clif Notes version of a book I might like to read.

I also think part of the issue with last night was that I am such a big Wizard of Oz fan, I found it hard to adjust the mythology to contain this version. I read all of the Frank L. Baum "Oz" novels (there are 14), and the mythology there is not really that of the movie, either, but it is the original. But I do think I might like the book, "Wicked," as I expect it explores this alternate reality in more depth. The musical's connection to the movie's story felt constricted to a series of snarky one-liners that had the audience exploding into laughter and me just grimacing. (Except for when a character is offered punch and told it's made of "lemons and melons and pears, oh my!" which inexplicably I found funny.) Maybe it's just that the play felt like a bunch of songs strung together by wink-wink, nudge-nudge inside jokes, that seemed smug and not as much funny as clever.

The actresses in the main roles were good, though, and the parts nicely showed off their talents in both singing and comedy. I kept imagining Kristin Chenowith and Idina Menzel in the roles - I am sorry to have missed that.

I think I'll avoid musicals again for awhile.

After, the 2600 audience members piled onto the street and I followed a colleague to a corner where she promised I could get a cab back to my hotel, before she disappeared into the T. I don't like cities whose cabs don't give you visual clues as to whether they are full or not! I didn't find one immediately, so started walking in the direction she told me the cab would need to go, and before long, I was just walking, although I had only the barest idea of where I was going. I began to think it wasn't very smart, as the sidewalks emptied and I began to pass only closed businesses. And yet, oddly, I felt calm. It was a cool night but I had a coat; I was wearing heels, but comfortable ones. I just walked, trusting that either I'd find a landmark I recognized or be able to flag down a cab if I got off course.

And then, wonderfully, I found myself a block away from our local office, and I could readjust the map in my head to point to the hotel. I passed a group of young couples who seemed lost and happened to mention the name of one of the only restaurants I could pinpoint in the city - one across from the office - so went from wandering cluelessly through the city to providing spot-on directions to others. (I admitted to them I was from out of town, too, but they, Californians, insisted that I was "local.")

I looked up online (not stupid Google maps, which still don't offer options for walking - go green, Google! - but, and discovered I'd walked about a mile and a quarter. Not bad.

Now off to the airport to trek home.


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